"Why do I have ta be the cruddy decoy?"

Numbuh 4 crossed his arms as Numbuh 1 finished tying the strand of red yarn around his waist.

"Because, you're the smallest out of all of us and thusly less likely to be seen by those cats out there." Numbuh 1 explained, testing his knot. "And besides, you seem to have developed a certain knack for climbing things."

The knot was tight enough, string tied securely around both Numbuh 4 and the catnip mouse presently fastened to his back. As he walked to the opening of the hole it made him jingle a little. Looking out he surveyed his path to follow.

"You know what you have to do." Numbuh 1 reminded him from behind "Get up to the highest point you can and create a distraction. When all the sentry cats are occupied you give us the signal to make a run for it. Then we'll provide some cover for you to get away safely."

"Eh, those cats don't scare me. I can handle 'em if somethin' happens."

"Don't get cocky Numbuh 4."

"Yeah, unless you like the idea of being able to bathe yourself with your tongue for the rest of your life." Numbuh 5 taunted.

"Fine, I'm goin'." He gruffly replied, climbing out of the hiding spot and scaling up first the scratching post then some nearby drapery. "'Don't get cocky Numbuh 4.' Crud, like I can't take care of myself." The scruffy blond continued to rant to himself as he crawled along the curtain top and made a quick leap to a shelf, careful not to knock over any cat shaped knick- knacks there on. "Stupid cat things. The second I'm normal again I'm gonna knock some sense intah that cat lady." He stopped to examine the ceiling fan hanging in the center of the room. It was only a few feet between the shelf and one of the fan blades, an easy jump to make. Although he seemed to have forgotten that he was only a few inches high at the moment.

His quartet of friends held their breath as he took a running leap over the void. Catching himself on the blade by only his front paws, claws anchored in tightly. They gasped watching him swinging his legs in midair trying to pull himself up to the platform, making the catnip mouse tied to him jingle urgently. With all his upper body strength he finally pulled himself up and out of harms way. His friends breathed a collective sigh of relief and quietly cheered him on.

He continued his trek, jumping into the bowl shaped light fixture hanging from the center of the fan. Upon landing, he put phase two of the plan into action. Peering over the edge of his perch he scanned the cats below, still pacing about like guards on watch duty. He turned and pulled at the knotted string on his back.

"Let's get this ova' with." The thread unraveled from around him, one end was still tied to the catnip mouse, the other he tied around a light bulb. Taking the stuffed mouse in his mouth he tossed it over the side, letting it fall until the string was no longer slack and the toy was left dangling several feet above the floor.

"Ca'mon, go get it." He urged the cats below. None of them seemed to notice the mouse suspended above their heads. He groaned and started pulling at the string. Jerking the mouse causing it to jingle loudly. "Let's go ya stupid cats!" A single cat stopped and looked up at the ringing plaything. Curious it pawed at it and meowed as it began to swing about. Other cats heard the jingles and joyful mewing and gathered around to try hitting the toy for themselves.

With all the cats now gathered in one central location, oblivious to everything but the swinging mouse, Numbuh 4 waved a paw at the group in the scratching post.

"Good job Numbuh 4." Numbuh 1 smiled. "That's the signal, let's go!"

Quietly, stealthfully they trotted passed the distracted cats. Four watched them from above, silently hoping the string would hold long enough under the stress of all the cats pulling at it.

Making it passed the couch without being seen allowed the group a moment to ease some tension. Standing at the opening to the hall they looked up at their lofty cohort.

"Ok Numbuh 4, we'll keep a lookout while you climb down." Numbuh 2 called to him.

"Don't botha'" the blond called back. "I found a short cut."

He wasn't going to do what they thought he was, was he? As the yellow kitten jumped off the ceiling fan it confirmed their suspicions. To him it was an agile leap to the sofa below. Being a cat, he would land on his feet in a glorious display to perfectly end a successful solo mission.

He hit the plastic slipcover with a charismatic grace, then lost his footing on the smooth surface and fell to the thin-carpeted floor with a thud.

"Cruddy plastic couch!"

The others hissed to shush his yelling which went fortunately unheard by the cats. Quietly complaining to himself Numbuh 4 got to his feet and followed his teammates.

Getting to the slightly open door, five fuzzy heads peeked in to examine the area. Inside the old woman was cheerfully knitting something with blue yarn, humming to herself, the white Persian curled up on her lap. But it was not what was in her hands or lap that they were concerned about.

"There." Numbuh 1 pointed as the cylindrical nozzle sticking out of a pile of yarn. "The laser is in her knitting basket."

"With all that yarn-" Numbuh 2 added, staring dreamily at the pile. Numbuh 1 swatted his friend in the head.

"Get a hold of yourself Numbuh 2! Just keep telling yourself that we're not really kittens."

"But we so cute." Numbuh 3 decried rolling over onto her back, purring adorably.

Numbuh 1 sighed, shaking his head at her. "Let's just go."

They approached the brown basket sitting in the shadow of a large, frumpy looking armchair. Numbuh 3 squealed with glee, leaping into the mound of multicolored string.

"Quiet girl." Numbuh 5 reminded her, climbing in and finding herself sinking up to her knees in the soft pit. She struggled to get her footing back. "Aw man."

"Hurry," Numbuh 1 whispered, "Try to push it out."

The girls found the laser sitting in the middle of the mess and proceeded in trying to force the device out of the basket's boundaries. But several balls of yarn made for a poor surface to brace themselves on. They sunk in, slipped and found the ray no closer to the edge.

"We should try some other approach." Numbuh 5 suggested as Numbuh 3 playfully flicked a loose strand of pink string off her hat.

"Well try again." Ordered Numbuh 1, "We have a very small window of opportunity here."

The fluffy Persian's ears perked up hearing something other then the soft clicking of its master's knitting needles. Peering over the armrest it was five kittens poking around where they didn't belong. It gave a low angry hiss.

"I think our window just closed Numbuh 1." Numbuh 2 quivered.

The cat hissed again ready to pounce. Elderly arms embraced it before it could do so.

"What is it pussykins?" The old lady asked sweetly. She looked over the side of her chair. Her face melting at the sight of the tiny would be thieves. "Oh, Kittens! Did you come all this way to be with mommy?" She got up out of her chair, placing the Persian in her former seat. It watched the quintet with a sharp glare.

"We ain't ya kittens lady!" Numbuh 4 shouted. "You'd betta' change us back before I turn ya face into a scratchin' post!"

His anger was only met with a look of oblivious joy. This only fueled his rant with more fury, but still no reaction on her face. He failed to realize that the old woman could not understand his threats. All she heard coming from his mouth was a string of angry sounding mews.

"Oh, you're all so sweet. Let mommy give you all hugs." She reached down and attempted to pick up Numbuh 5.

"Aw no you don't." The brown kitten sneered, arching her back and hissing. As the leathery hand drew near, Five snarled and slashed her claws across the liver spotted skin. The crone wheezed in a shocked gasp, her face shifting from mother hen to vicious harpy.

"You naughty kitten!"

A sudden swoop and Numbuh 5 found herself lifted several feet in the air by the scruff of her neck. She struggled to pull free but the old woman's grasp tightened into an unsettling pinch. The crazy cat lady leered at the Hershey kitten, violence flickering in her pale eyes.

"Numbuh 5!" Numbuh 1 called out, rushing to the scene. In a desperate move he gripped the old lady's sock in his teeth and began pulling, trying to distract her. Jumping in Numbuh 2 began ramming his head into her other foot. Numbuh 4 scaled the armchair and took a flying leap, sinking his claws into the woman's back. Her Persian hissed angrily at the kittens but could do nothing else to stop them without harming its mistress in the process. Numbuh 3 took an end of yarn in her mouth and ran around the woman's legs. The senile fool tripped forward, landing flat on her face, dropping Numbuh 5 who landed skillfully on her feet.

The quintet scuttled to each other, making sure their friends were safe. The Persian ran to its master's side, mewing a pawing to see if she were all right. The ancient form moved slightly, arthritic limbs struggled to get up.

"Such naughty kittens." The elderly voice held a demonic tone. "Mommy will have to show you how good kitties behave. Here Kitty, kitty!"

A soft rumble, then a tsunami of cats began flooding the room, surrounding the young ones. Feline eyes all focused on dispatching the offending kittens, narrowed and cruel. Escape was moot, only one option was left.

"Kids Next Door! Battle Stations!"

A melee of fur and claws commenced. Tail biting, face scratching, yowls and hisses echoing throughout the room. Numbuh 1 hurried over to the knitting basket and propped himself between it and the armchair. With a heave he kicked the vessel over spreading its soft, twined booty all over the ground. The cats around him all became entranced by the spheres and immediately took to playing with them in whimsical cat bliss. This was a wonderful by-product of his true intention. The transformation ray now lay on the carpet unobstructed. Unfortunately its girth was now the obstacle to be dealt with, but first he would give his friends aid.

A half dozen cats were trailing Numbuh 4, who had already given a few of the strong kicks to the face.

"Just try an' get me ya hairballs!" He taunted, gripping onto a wide curtain lining a narrow window and climbed up. The pursuing cats all clung onto the fabric starting to follow their half-pint prey. He hopped from the linen to the sill where Numbuh 3 sat, playfully knocking cat related ornaments off and onto the vicious kitties below. More cats attempted to get to them via the curtain climbing but their collective weight on the old rungs ripped the fixture from the wall causing cats to come tumbling down.

"Silly kitties." Three giggled before jumping off the ledge, landing on one of the cats trapped beneath the fallen cloth. Numbuh 4 following her closely.

Numbuh 2 ran under the armchair, the cats chasing him either slamming head on into the furniture piece or getting stuck on their way underneath. On the other side of the room Numbuh 5 had gripped and knitting needle in her mouth and was swinging it brashly at any feline that came near. Confused and scared by her behavior the cats screeched and fled the room. Those that didn't received quick blows to the head by a thin metal rod until they did.

Aged eyes watched the carnage in horror. Her lovely kitties were all being dispatched by mere children turned into kittens. She couldn't stand seeing her babies being hurt and she wasn't going to sit idly by and take it either.

"My poor kitties! What have you done to my precious cats?! " The old woman cried out, her eyes mixing anger and sadness. "I'm going to make sure you never hurt another kitty again!"

She swooped down her skeletal hands, falling into a full run after the five. A murderous glint on her face. They knew getting caught by her now was a bad idea. They lapped once around the room. As they passed by the spilt yarn basket Numbuh 1 shouted,

"Numbuh 2, Numbuh 5, get the ray!"

The duo split from the group and ran after the laser while the remaining trio kept the old woman distracted with her chase.

"So how do we use this thang?" Numbuh 5 asked helping Numbuh 2 bring the weapon into an upright position. Two looked over the settings on the hilt of the device. He hit a few promising looking buttons and flipped a switch. The laser emitted a soft whine, charging up.

"That should do it." He smiled, but faltered, "I hope."

A crash from offside took their attention. A potted plant had been pushed over during the pursuit of their friends. The old woman was drawing dangerously close to them, something had to be done right now. Aiming to hit them all individually would take too long. This had to be done in one blow. Numbuh 2 looked up and saw the very thing that could help them accomplish just that.

"Numbuh 5, help me aim this at that mirror."

Her head holding up the barrel of the ray, Five moved as Two directed her.

"A little to the left, up a little, no that's too much-" The angulation had to be perfect or the shot would be wasted. "Good! That's it! Hold it right there."

"How long does Numbuh 5 have to stand like this?" The weight of the pipe on her head was starting to bother her.

"Just a little longer-" he placed his paw on the trigger.

Numbuhs 4,1 and 3 made another ring around the room, the granny behind them nearly breathing down their backs. She was just about to grab them as they passed beneath the cross hairs.

A blinding flash of light filled the room.

Numbuh 4 stopped running, surprised to find his paws had been returned to hands. His elation was cut short as Numbuh 1 crashed head on into his backside, Numbuh 3 quickly followed, felling the trio to the ground.

"Good thinking Numbuh 2." Numbuh 1 groaned, stuck in the middle of this KND sandwich. Numbuh 3 sat up sliding off the mound, then gave Numbuh 1's head a disappointed pat.

"Aw, no more fuzzy head."

Numbuh 2 was elated; he had feared his hunch wouldn't have paid off. He thanked his lucky stars it did. The mirror had reflected and amplified the transforming blast, getting all five of them at once.

"It worked! We're human again!" He cheered, dancing around.

"Hallelujah!" Numbuh 5 added.

The remaining members got to their feet. Numbuh 1 held up his hands admiringly, looking over his hairless pale skin.

"Opposable thumbs, how I've missed you!" He exclaimed, hugging himself.

"Hey, weh'd the cat lady go?" Numbuh 4 suddenly questioned.

The group glanced around. The old woman had seemingly vanished from the room. They all muttered to themselves, confused, until they heard a pitiful mew from down on the floor. Sitting there was a thin, decrepit, blue haired cat.

"She's a kitty now!" Numbuh 3 squealed kneeling down to pet the elderly form.

"It seems fitting." Noted Numbuh 1.

"Should we change her back?" Numbuh 2 looked to the laser still in his hand.

"Numbuh 5 thinks she'd be happier this way."

The granny cat yowled and ran from Numbuh 3's gentle touch, obviously not wanting to be petted. Numbuh 1 took the ray from 2.

"Come on," he said "Let's use this on the kids she transformed."

"What about all the normal kitties?" Numbuh 3 pointed out all the cats in the room presently staring at them with confused and aimless looks.

"We could call the ASPCA." Numbuh 2 suggested.

Numbuh 1 only smiled; it was that smart, devious grin that told his teammates he had something sneaky on his mind.

"I think I know what we can do."

++++++++++++

A line about two blocks long tapered from the massive tree house looming high above the neighborhood. All the animal loving kids in town were waiting their turn to pick a pet from the huge box that had "free cats" spray painted on the side.

One little girl found a certain blue furred cat that was much to her liking.

"Aw, you're such a cute kitty." She shrieked joyfully "I'm gonna take you home and make you my baby and give you a bonnet and booties and a bottle of milk and give you rides in a stroller-"

The old feline was carted off in the embrace of the tiny child whom jabbered sweet nothings to her new pet as it struggled futile to get away, mewing pitifully.

Numbuh 1 watched the adoption silently smiling to himself. A successful mission overall. The cat lady's evil scheme had been shut down, all the transformed kids had been turned back and set free, and the woman's ex- minions were being given good homes.

The goings on no longer needing his supervision he waked back to the briefing room where his fellow Kids Next Door were waiting for him.

"You all must be commended." He began, entering the room. "Not anyone could have been able to handle that kind of situation. But you have all shown true grace under pressure and have proven that under any circumstances that as long as we work together we are unstoppable!"

He gazed out into the room, his beaming confident face smiling at his crew. His expression shrank from one of pride to one of confused acceptance. Numbuh 5 was rubbing her back on a support beam, making what sounded like purring noises. Numbuhs 2 and 3 were crouched on the floor batting a ball of yarn back and forth to one another. Numbuh 4 had somehow managed to climb up a window shade and was currently sliding down on it making a little thud as he hit the ground and repeated the process. Numbuh 1 exhaled a deep sigh.

"Although it appears we do a bit of an adjustment period."

[END TRANSMISSION]